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DeSantis turning to retired first responders and apprentice teachers to fill openings, and more

More education initiatives: In June, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that would allow certain military veterans to get temporary educator’s certificates even if they don’t have a college degree. On Tuesday, the governor announced three more initiatives for the next legislative session that are intended to help school districts fill vacant teaching positions: a recruitment program to encourage retired police officers and other first responders to consider teaching; a teacher apprenticeship program that would pair veteran teachers as mentors to people with associate’s degrees for two years of training; and a scholarship program for current teachers to help them earn master’s degrees by allowing them to teach dual-enrollment college courses at their current schools. All the initiatives include financial incentives. “We’ve got people that have served 20 years and in law enforcement, they retire and some of them are looking for kind of the next chapter in their life,” DeSantis said. “Well, they’re not going to just sit around on their hands, they want to do something. So we want to provide a pathway we want to incentivize them being able to help.” Today, the Florida Board of Education will consider a rule detailing the steps veterans without college degrees need to take to obtain a five-year temporary teaching certificate. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Florida Phoenix. Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. WPTV. Florida Politics. Office of the Governor. DeSantis announced the proposals a day after the economic watchdog organization Florida TaxWatch issued a report concluding that low pay and high stress are the leading reasons for the teacher shortage. WFTV. The Capitolist.

Around the state: Duval County School Board members approve the purchase of metal detectors for all 19 public high schools, the number of weapons confiscated in Lee and Collier schools have skyrocketed, Broward’s school superintendent said the first day of school went smoothly, Miami-Dade becomes the final school district in the state to begin classes today, Sarasota students who want to change their names or the pronouns by which they’re referred in school must now get permission from their parents, the state’s McKay Scholarship Program has been merged into another program after 23 years of providing private school scholarships to students with special needs, and a Martin County High School student’s artwork was displayed on the Google home page all day Tuesday. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: Superintendent Jose Dotres said this week that he’s worried about having enough teachers, getting students to schools on time and more as schools open today. “Transportation is what worries me the most, because of the unpredictability of traffic,” he said. He also addressed how the district plans to comply with new state laws governing the instruction of race and sex education. WPLG. WFOR. Miami Herald. WTVJ.

Broward: Superintendent Vickie Cartwright said the first day of school was relatively smooth and successful, with more than 200,000 students returning to classes. “Things are really rolling very well,” she said. All core academic classes had certified teachers, despite 107 teaching jobs still being open, and she said all bus routes were covered. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. WPLG. WTVJ.

Central Florida: A week after schools in central Florida opened, districts are still trying to fill teaching and school bus driver vacancies. Orange County needs about 100 teachers, while Osceola is looking for 256 and Seminole has more than 60 openings. Shortages are especially acute at schools in low-income neighborhoods and in subjects such as math and science. Orlando Sentinel. WESH.

Duval: School board members unanimously approved spending $8.7 million at Tuesday’s meeting to buy metal detectors for all 19 high schools. More cameras, extra lighting and fences will be installed, and badges will required to enter and exit buildings. “The world we live in right now, we need to take every precaution that we can,” said board chair Darryl Willie. WJAX. WJXT. WTLV.

Pinellas: A 15-year-old East Lake High School student has been arrested and accused of making a shooting and bomb threat against the school on the social media platform Snapchat. The teen admitted the posting but said it was a joke, according to deputies. WFLA. WTVT.

Lee, Collier: The number of weapons being confiscated by authorities at schools in both Lee and Collier counties have surged in the past few years. Collier schools reported an increase of 120 percent between the 2019-2020 school year and 2020-2021 year, and in Lee County the increase in that same time frame was 30 percent. Both are in line with increases reported around the country. “Students should never have to worry about their safety while at school,” said Lee Superintendent Christopher Bernier. “I can’t echo enough the importance of parents and students reporting any suspicious, illegal or potential harmful activity,” said Rachel Dawes, director of student relations for Collier schools. “It is vital to students’ safety, campus safety … That all threats and all weapons are reported to administrators and law enforcement.” Naples Daily News. Barbara Evans, a longtime nonprofit leader, is the new chief executive officer of the Collier education foundation Champions for Learning. She begins Sept. 13, replacing Susan McManus, who retired in May after 29 years of leading the organization. Naples Daily News.

Sarasota: Students who want to change their names or the pronouns by which they’re referred in school must now get permission from their parents, according to a new district policy adopted to comply with the state’s new Parental Rights in Education law. WUSF. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Rumors that district teachers will not be permitted to read books aloud to their students are false, district officials and the president of the teachers union said this week. “Read-alouds are an integral part of literacy instruction, particularly at the elementary level,” the district wrote in a statement. “While teachers have been advised to communicate with administration and parents regarding the titles (they) intend to read, no one has been told that they cannot conduct read-alouds with students.” Union president Rex Ingerick concurred. “There has been a lot of misinformation,” he said. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. A 13-year-old bike rider was critically injured Tuesday afternoon when she was hit by a car in a school crosswalk in Osprey. The driver did not stop. Highway Patrol troopers are investigating. WINK.

Leon: The three candidates for the District 1 school board seat, incumbent Alva Striplin and challengers Anthony DeMarco and Marianne Arbulu, answer questions about raising teachers’ salaries, the parental notification provision in the district’s LGBTQ+ guide, and how board members should respond to new state laws that set guidelines on the discussion of race, gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms. Tallahassee Democrat.

Alachua: The window for the first of three testing periods for the state’s new assessments, the Florida Assessment of Student Thinking, begins Aug. 22 for the school district and must be completed by Sept. 30. Individual schools will set their own testing schedules and notify families, district officials said. Parents must then be given the results within two weeks after the tests are given. Gainesville Sun. Alachua Chronicle. WCJB. The director of the school district’s Camp Crystal Lake has filed a lawsuit against the school board, former superintendent Carlee Simon and current District 5 school board candidate Prescott Cowles for defamation. Scott Burton was placed on leave by Simon in January after she expressed concerns about the camp’s finances and management. A subsequent district investigation concluded that Burton didn’t violate any lasws or district policies. Gainesville Sun. WCJB.

Bay: Leon Miller, a student advisor at Gulf Coast State College for 30 years and the first black city commissioner in the city of Lynn Haven, died Monday of complications from several illnesses. He was 89. WJHG. WMBB.

Martin: A Martin County High School student’s artwork was displayed on the Google home page all day Tuesday. Sophie Araque-Liu, a 16-year-old senior, receives a $30,000 scholarship for winning the annual Doodle for Google contest in which K-12 students create their own versions of the Google logo. The theme for the contest was “I care for myself by …” and Araque-Liu incorporated a drawing of herself hugging her mother in place of the second “o” in the word Google. “I care for myself by letting other people care for me,” said Araque-Liu. “It’s just amazing to know you still have people supporting you, and you don’t need to try to do everything on your own.” TCPalm. WPTV. WPEC.

Hernando: School officials are defending themselves after a campaign mailer criticized the district for the way it handled the 2021 arrest of a Suncoast Elementary School paraprofessional on charges of sexual battery and lewd and lascivious behavior against a victim under the age of 12. The mailer was sent by a political committee associated with state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, who has been a frequent critic of the school board and district. Some parents complained that they had received no information from the district before a story was published in local newspapers six days after the arrest. District officials said the arrest was for an alleged crime committed in Miami, and that the principal informed school parents on the day of the arrest. Florida Politics.

Colleges and universities: More than 208,000 students who attended ITT Technical Institute between January 2005 and September 2016, when the school closed, will have nearly $4 billion in student loans forgiven, the U.S. Department of Education has announced. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the college falsely represented its academic programs to students. “It is time for student borrowers to stop shouldering the burden from ITT’s years of lies and false promises,” Cardona said. USA Today. Associated Press.

McKay Scholarship ends: Twenty-three years it became the first Florida K-12 private school scholarship, the McKay Scholarship Program has been ended. In those 23 years, the program provided more than $3 billion in financial assistance to 483,082 students with special needs, according to a report issued this week by the Florida Department of Education. The McKay program has been folded into the state’s Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities. reimaginED.

Around the nation: Enrollment in the nation’s public K-12 schools remains below pre-pandemic years, according to preliminary counts from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. In the fall of 2019, about 50.5 million students were enrolled. In the fall of 2021, the number was 49.5 million. The report did show that pre-K enrollments are up 14 percent and kindergarten enrollments are up 5 percent. K-12 Dive. Education Week. IRS officials announced this week that educators will get an increased tax deduction for buying school materials. Teachers can now deduct $300 for out-of-pocket classroom expenses in 2022, up from the $250 that’s been in place since the deduction began in 2002. NPR.

Opinions on schools: As this new school year starts, teachers should remember that teaching about racial discrimination and racism is a required part of public schooling in Florida. Doing so is mandated by state law, included in state standards and grounded in evidence. While the new legal context may require some navigating, backing away from discussion of these topics in public schools is not an option. F. Chris Curran, Gainesville Sun. The Florida Board of Education must give clarity and compassion to students and teachers when setting the rules for implementing the state’s vague Parental Rights in Education law at today’s meeting. Sun-Sentinel. I and many of my colleagues are gravely concerned that universities are moving towards an Orwellian environment of fear, where educators and even their institutions do not feel that they can speak safely about topics deemed true, appropriate, and best-practice by their peers in other states. Ryan Need, Tampa Bay Times.

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BY NextSteps staff